Moments and memories

Feb 28th, 2008 | By | Category: Spirituality

Special moments are odd.

They are daft moments mostly. We go on holiday in August each year and we have to go through a routine for it all to be right, it includes walking Dun Laoghaire pier the night before and stopping at the Little Chef at Saint Cleer’s in South Wales as we travel eastwards. The Saint Cleer’s stop has been made more surreal in recent years by the Saint Cleer’s waltz – a one person amble around the car park while humming what can be remembered of the Blue Danube. Very odd.

The departure for France has taken on its own traditions, the evening meal in Portsmouth has to be in a particular pub down on the new waterfront, and there has to be a walk to watch the Isle of Wight ferry come in.

Even summer holidays have become not quite proper summer holidays if they are not spent in France, and if there is no buying of back to school stationery in a Leclerc supermarket, and if Sud Ouest is not bought each day to learn the local news.

Why do these things become so important? Why if one element is missing does the experience not feel quite the same?

Many families have their own “rituals”, their own little traditions to emphasise particular moments or particular events.

It is through the way we mark special moments in our ordinary life that I have come to appreciate why people, who have gone to church all their lives, like things done in a particular way. We could stop at any roadside restaurant, but the Little Chef has become the one associated with our holiday memories, perhaps in the same way church can be done in many ways, but people’s memories of worship means they like particular ways of doing things.

Oddly enough, these thoughts arise because Herself has Chinese takeaway on the menu for tomorrow evening. We only have Chinese takeaway on Christmas Eve. This is a major breach with tradition – I think we should have been consulted!

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  1. Rituals are a strange phenomena.

    That saying “Familiarity breeds content” is very true. We convince ourselves that life would not be the same without our old traditions when in reality, it might well be better! Maybe it’s reality we’re trying to avoid?

    Enjoy your Chinese – and don’t forget to hang up your stocking 😉

  2. Steph,

    You’re right about familiarity in most cases, but there are situations where rituals have become very hallowed and occasions would not be the same without them. People who have had no connection with the war or the British forces are still moved at the reading of Binyon’s ‘Ode to the Fallen’ at our church on Remembrance Sunday each year.

    Perhaps the rituals do help us to escape reality – but then what is ‘real? Is the daily Mass at my local Catholic church, where there would be a hundred people on some weekday mornings less ‘real’ than the bizarre goings-on at the Mahon Tribunal?

  3. Ian Little Chef have been closing down a lot of their restaurants of late. I hope the St Cleer one has not suffered. Did you ever go out to the ‘Frying Pan’ at Sparkford? It eventually became a Little Chef and was very popular, but some bean counter in the organisation decided it must close last year.

  4. I had never suggested ordering Chinese until Monday 4th February this year. I found the menu, we chose what we wanted I went to lift the phone and then I remembered – It was Chinese New Year. Maybe the only day of the year the Chinese was closed. We had a good giggle about that and resorted to the chippie.

  5. Les,

    The Little Chef cull took place a couple of years ago – I think I wrote a blog at the time saying my whole summer holiday was threatened if a piece was not in place! St Cleer’s survived – it’s on a busy bit of the A40. I love sitting in there and relishing the moment!


    Our Chinese is actually run by a Vietnamese called George and I had beef curry and chips!

  6. Yes a special moment for me is to go to Keem Strand on Achill Island and watch the fresh water stream cut its way across the fantastic fine sandy beach before reaching the surf. Perfect Peace!!!

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